The Blues and Blackhawks have only played five games, but it feels like so much more. Well, it should, because they've played nearly a game's worth of overtime hockey (57:33). Both teams are battered and bruised, and have to dig deep to win two of these last three games.
Luckily for the Blues, two of those are at home. They may not have their captain back (or they may! Who the fuck knows), but they should be able to feed off of the same kind of crowd support that allowed them to jump to a 2-0 lead in game two. The trick for the Blues is keeping that lead through all three periods.A helpful way to do that would be to limit the Blackhawks' top players' chances. They're not afraid to go after our guys with big hits; why in the world are we so scared of checking (legally) Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews. Toews was rattled in game one; rattle him again. For the love of God, pay attention to Kane. Petro knows what's up:
"We’ve got to be a little bit harder on Kane," said Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo on Thursday. "Obviously, he’s a dynamic player. He’s able to create things offensively. You saw by the overtime goal. If we can take away their time and space and play them harder and make it more difficult for them, I think that would be a little bit more success for us."
There is a difference between knowing what to do and doing what you need to do. The guys and coach Ken Hitchcock are saying all of the right things. Why in the world, then, have they had Jekyll and Hyde games nearly every game this series? You can vary how you play, but varying how well you play is a bad idea. Playing a full 60 minutes has been a constant issue all season; to have that translate into the playoffs could mean elimination in the first round again.
Fixing the two-for-20 power play needs to be better. Vladimir Tarasenko is creative and is a huge asset, but the Blues' can't clone him and run two units full of him. The Blues may be looking at the bright side of things, but hopefully that's not at the expense of the things that they need to adjust.